The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Seventh Day: Wednesday, 7th August, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 361]

The first paragraph of this letter reads:
"The latest application for production of evidence from the Public Prosecutor, Munich II, shows what far-fetched means are employed in order to saddle the concentration camp of Dachau with allegedly perpetrated crimes."
In the second paragraph of the letter regret is expressed that the two dead men were able by their suicide to escape impending punishment for smuggling letters. The third paragraph refers to the confiscation and reads:
"After the two corpses had been dissected, according to law, and had been released, the commandant's staff had no further interest in the preservation of the instruments with which they had hanged themselves. The commandant's staff are not among those objectionable Kulturmenschen (cultured people) who preserve such articles as souvenirs, as was done in America recently in the Dillinger case."
The letter is signed on behalf of the camp commandant by SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Lippert.

Then there is a request by the Public Prosecutor for action.

In the next letter there is a reference to this letter from the camp commandant of Dachau which shows that the request of the Oberstaatsanwalt arose from the impartial observation of his official duty, and then the file closes with this entry:

"Munich, 27th September, 1934, Public Prosecution. Letter from the Oberstaatsanwalt to the Generalstaatsanwalt at the Court of Appeals, Munich.

Subject: Death of the prisoners in protective custody Wilhelm Franz and Dr. Katz in the concentration camp Dachau.

I have stopped the proceedings, as the investigations have not produced sufficient grounds for the assumption of outside guilt in the deaths of the two prisoners in protective custody."


Q. Well, now, witness, I have taken some time to read that document. That is a characteristic illustration of the fact that the SA and SS abominations in the camps were protected by the highest authorities of the Third Reich, is that not so?

A. This document is from the year 1933, at a time when the concentration camp Dachau was not manned exclusively by SS men. The document indicates that the Prosecutor of the District Court in Munich suspected that some persons in protective custody had been murdered.

Q. Are you suggesting that conditions improved after the SS men took complete charge of running of the camps?

A. This document contains individual cases of the year 1933. But conclusions on the general conditions in concentration camps, particularly in the following years, cannot be drawn from the document.

[Page 362]

Q. Did you know that the Waffen SS was making quite a profitable business out of killing people in concentration camps? Did you know that?

A. No.

Q. I want you to look at the Document D-960, which will be Exhibit GB 568. It is a very short document. It is headed:

"Waffen SS, Natzweiler Concentration Camp, Commandant's Office - 24th March, 1943, Concentration Camp Natzweiler.

Bill to the Security Police and SD Strassburg.

For the twenty prisoners executed and cremated in this concentration camp, costs amounting to 127 Reichsmark, 5 pfennige arose. The commandant's office of the Natzweiler Concentration Camp requests the early dispatch of the above-mentioned sum."

The tariff for killing was very low in Natzweiler, was it not, six marks 38 pfennige for each dead man? Did you know that money was paid to the funds of SS for activities of that kind?

A. No. And as I understand it, this document does not show that at all. The concentration camp commandant here uses the stamp "Waffen SS," but in this connection I must refer to what I said yesterday, that the term "Waffen SS" is misleading in so far as the concentration camp system was an independent institution of the police. This document seems to support my statement, since it shows that this horrible bill here was sent to the Security Police, that is, again to an executive organ. The Waffen SS -

Q. Just a moment. Assuming that the Security Police paid this bill, where would the money have gone to? It would have gone back to Natzweiler. What would have happened to it? Would it have been credited to the funds of the, Waffen SS or not?

A. The commandant's offices of the concentration camps, including Natzweiler, settled their bills with the Reich and not with the Waffen SS. I cannot say how this money was used and for what purposes it was spent, because

Q. Do you know - you have no knowledge of the financial arrangements of these camps with the Waffen SS, have you? If you have not, that suffices me for the moment.

A. No, no, from my activity in the head office "SS Courts" I know a little also about the economic control of the concentration camps, and as to this point, I know that the commandants' offices of concentration camps settled their accounts directly with the agencies of the German Reich and had no connection at all with other treasuries or agencies of the Waffen SS as such.

Q. As you please. Now you said in your testimony that the guards in concentration camps had not committed crimes, that whoever else was responsible, Pohl and one or two others, certainly it was not the SS guards. Were you serious when you said that, witness?

A. In order to avoid misunderstanding, I should like to make it clear here that when I spoke of guards I meant only those persons who guarded a concentration camp from the outside, in contrast to those members of the concentration camp guards who were employed inside the camp and on the commandant's staff and who, guarded the internal installations of the camp.

Q. But - but both those categories of guards were SS men, were they not?

A. As I have already said, they belonged to the so-called nominal Waffen SS without having anything to do with its organization.

Q. Well, I shall - I shall return to that point in a moment.

First of all, I want you to look at Document D-924, which will give you a picture of the - humanity and ethical attitude of SS guards. I am using a phrase which you used yourself regarding the SS. That is Exhibit GB 570, my Lord. It is a report, this time from a Dutch source, of the evacuation of the Rehmsdorff camp to Theresienstadt.

[Page 363]

The first page is a statement by Peter Langhorst, who says:
"I am an ex-political prisoner and I have been detained in various prisons and concentration camps, finally in the Rehmsdorff camp.

At the approach of the Allied armies, this camp was evacuated and the prisoners, about 2,900 men, were transported from Rehmsdorff to Theresienstadt.

Most of these prisoners were Czechs, Poles, Russians, and Hungarian Jews. There were only a few Dutchmen among them.

Of these prisoners, only some 500 men actually reached Theresienstadt; the others were simply killed off during the transport by the so-called 'shot in the neck.'

The corpses were thrown into mass graves which were filled up afterwards."

Then - I need not trouble you with the rest of the statement, but you see a further statement with regard to that matter by Baron von Lamsweered of Amsterdam, who was on this transport, who says at the end of the second paragraph:
"On the 12th of November, 1944, I was imprisoned in the concentration camp Rehmsdorff, where I stayed until my escape on 20th April, 1945. At the approach of the Allied forces, the camp at Rehmsdorff was evacuated in great haste and the political prisoners of this camp were transported to the camp Theresienstadt.

At first the prisoners were transported by train in goods vans. We arrived by train at Marienbad, where, for causes I do not know, we had a delay of about one week. The vans with the prisoners were kept standing at the station. In the course of that week, Allied bombers attacked the Marienbad station and in the confusion some 1,000 prisoners escaped into the surrounding woods. Naturally the entire local service (the SS, Volkssturm, and Hitlerjugend) was set to work to recapture the escaped prisoners, and practically all prisoners, who of course wore their camp clothes and could easily be recognized, were recaptured. These prisoners, about a thousand men, were led back in groups to Marienbad station and there they were killed by the SS guards by a shot in the neck. As both engines of the train had been wrecked during the air attack, the prisoners had to walk all the way from Marienbad to Theresienstadt. Many among them were unable to go so far, and fell down along the road, totally exhausted; without exception, these prisoners were murdered by the guards by a shot in the neck. That evening their bodies were removed by lorry and buried in mass graves in the woods."

And he says he thinks that he could point out where it was.
"I am fully prepared to assist in tracing them. When the transport started, I heard the SS guards saying that the total number of prisoners amounted to 2,775. Only some of these prisoners have reached Theresienstadt. The others were murdered during the transport. Near Lobositz, about seven kilometres from Theresienstadt, I myself escaped. The leader of the transport was the SS Oberscharfuehrer Schmidt, one of the henchmen of Buchenwald, who also there behaved in a most scandalous way towards the prisoners, and who was known to be a sadist."
Do you still say that the SS guards portrayed the characteristics of decency?

A. I should like to emphasize that I did not say that the SS guards had the characteristics of SS members. I said that our investigations showed that the actual crimes in the concentration camps were committed by members of the commandanturen and that we found no evidence that the guards had any part in them and -

Q. Then let me show you - let me show you another document, the Document D-959, it will be Exhibit GB 571, which is a report to the Ministry of the Interior of the Czechoslovak Republic. I want you to turn to Page 3 of the

[Page 364]

report: "Crimes committed by the members of the Allgemeine SS and the Waffen SS."

The crimes committed by the members of the SS troops against the Czechoslovak and foreign citizens on the territory of the Czechoslovak Republic -

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, is it not rather late to put in documents of this sort which are general reports by the governments of Allied countries? The case has been already fully made by the prosecution and to put in a new document of this sort, which is only a report of an Allied country, seems to the Tribunal to be an unusual course to take.

MR. ELWYN JONES: With great respect, my Lord, I submit that the prosecution is entitled to put in documents of this kind in rebuttal of the sort of testimony that this witness is giving. The conception that a witness should solemnly say that SS guards committed no atrocities was one which certainly did not occur ever to the prosecution, and in face of testimony of that kind I submit that the prosecution is well entitled to put in documents which do not deal with individual cases, as might possibly be objectionable to the Tribunal, but with the whole mass of testimony. I submit that until the very last moment the prosecution is entitled to put in such documents, regrettable though it is, perhaps, that they have not been put in before, but I do submit that the prosecution is entitled to put them in. If your Lordship pleases, if I might add a further comment to your Lordship's inquiry: the defence have, after all, produced over a hundred thousand affidavits and I do submit that in these circumstances, in view of that mountain of evidence, it is only right that there should rest upon the record the authority of statements submitted on behalf of the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: What is your submission, with reference to the construction of Article 21, concerning this document?

MR. ELWYN JONES: If your Lordship pleases, I submit that the terms of Article 21 make it mandatory upon the Tribunal to accept reports of this kind by governments, which are submitted by the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Which are the special words to which you refer?

MR. ELWYN JONES: The Tribunal - The second sentence, "The Tribunal shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of United Nations, including the acts and documents of the committees set up in the various Allied countries for the investigation of war crimes and the records and findings of military or other Tribunals of any of the United Nations." Now this document, my Lord, is - it has a certificate from the Czechoslovak Minister of the Interior on the face of it, certifying that it is a State Document, within the meaning of Article 21, and it bears the signature of the Minister of the Interior himself, so that I submit that quite clearly within the terms of Article 21 it is properly admissible and that the Tribunal should accept it.

THE PRESIDENT: Was there any committee or commission which drew up this document?

MR. ELWYN JONES: It is a report of the Czechoslovak Ministry of the Interior itself; it is a report of the State Department.

THE PRESIDENT: Report to whom?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Furthermore, my Lord, my learned friend, Mr. Griffith-Jones, draws my attention to Article 19 of the Charter:

"The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence. It shall, adopt and apply to the greatest possible extent expeditious and non-technical procedure and shall admit any evidence that it deems to have probative value."
I do submit that even if you were to find, and I find it hard to think that you would, that this is not a document within the meaning of Article 21, it is admissible under Article 19.

[Page 365]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Now, do you want to say anything, Dr. Pelckmann?

DR. PELCKMANN: I believe, your Lordship, the decision of the Tribunal on this document should be the same as that on the two documents which we attempted in vain to introduce yesterday. Whether this document falls under Article 21, I cannot judge; the Tribunal will decide that. But I refer to the other point of view which your Lordship has already mentioned. It is very late to submit these documents now. Article 21 must be interpreted to mean only that such documents can be submitted during the presentation of the case of the prosecution. The prosecution's case is now closed and documents can only he introduced by submitting them to a witness; but since there may be hundreds, perhaps thousands of these cases, the defence must be given an opportunity to comment on them. It is not a question of testing the credibility of the witness, but it is actually a question of new evidence being presented by the prosecution and the defence must have an opportunity of answering it. I do not believe that this is the intention of Article 21, otherwise the trial would be extended indefinitely.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn and we will sit again at two o'clock.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

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